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The Best Serving Trays

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated February 2022

Serving trays are fantastic for taking breakfast in bed to your significant other, serving appetizers at a dinner party, or carrying soup to your sick child. Make your mealtimes neater and prettier with these classy serving trays.

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  Top Choice Unique Design Best with Raised Edges Best Bang for Your Buck Best Disposable
  Thirteen Chefs
Wine Barrel Inspired Serving Tray
Thirteen Chefs
Tramanto Olive Wood Cheese Board
Rustic Vintage Food Serving Trays
Wooden Nested Serving Trays
US Acrylic
Plastic Serving Trays
Our SummaryAn affordable, lightweight wooden tray that is resistant to heat, odors, stains, and sliding.This charcuterie board is sure to add a rustic touch to any dinner party or picnic!A set of stackable reclaimed wooden trays with iron handles.A sturdy, sleek, and beautiful set of five wooden serving trays that will work for multiple uses.A set of simple, glossy serving trays that are durable and lightweight.
ProsCircular, made from high-quality cypress wood and steel, durable and resistant to moisture, has handles, nonslip rubber feet.Olive wood, natural cut, no fumigation or pesticides, can eat directly off it.Reclaimed wood, sanded, sturdy yet lightweight, iron handles, stackable for storage.Set of five, sustainable and environmentally friendly, cut-out handles, deep tray lips, customizable and affordable.Affordable, set of three, BPA-free, lightweight yet durable, shatter-resistant, top-rack dishwasher-safe, stackable for easy storage.
ConsRecommended to not place food directly on the tray.Smaller size.Wood and paint may become damaged over time.May have to sand down sides.Can slide around, not as sturdy or pretty.
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The Best Serving Trays

 breakfast in bed with pancakes and coffee on wooden tray
LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Serving Trays

A tray of appetizers on a black slate serving tray.

Why buy a serving tray?

Serving trays are not only incredibly versatile, but they’re also durable and sustainable. They’re great for transporting food and dishes around dinner parties, and they’re great for creating rustic tablescapes. They beautifully display charcuterie and other appetizers, and they come in handy when carrying platters, cocktails, and desserts. A tiered stand or a sophisticated bar cart can work well with serving trays when serving your guests. Serving trays also aren’t just for dinner parties; they’re perfect for cozying up on the couch or bed with a meal, whether you’re sick or having breakfast in bed.

What should you look for in a serving tray?

  • Material: Almost all serving trays are made of metal, wood, or plastic. Metal will typically be the heaviest, the most durable, and the most modern-looking. Wood is strong, aesthetically pleasing, and between metal and plastic in terms of weight. There are also many different types of wood that serving trays can be made of, so you may find that wooden ones offer the most variety. Wood is also the most common material for home serving trays, as it’s both strong and beautiful without being too heavy. Plastic is the lightest material but isn’t as durable or visually appealing, so if you opt for a plastic tray, be sure that it’s made of premium material.
  • Size: Like many household items, serving trays can come in multiple sizes. When choosing your size, consider what your main intended use for the new tray will be. If you plan to use it for parties and entertaining or for bigger items like cakes or jugs, you’ll probably want to opt for something larger. If it’s just for your own personal use, a smaller model will probably serve your needs. You’ll also want to make sure that you feel comfortable carrying the tray. And if you plan to use it for more decorative purposes, you’ll want to be sure it fits on whichever surface you plan to keep it.
  • Design: For such a relatively simple item, you will have quite a few design options when it comes to selecting a serving tray. They can be rectangular, circular, or oval-shaped. Wooden trays can be naturally dark or light, and metals and plastics can be dyed or tinted in many hues. Some will have deeper sides than others to better prevent spilling. The tray itself may be extra thin or extra thick. There are nonslip, bag trays, and nestling trays available if you want some extra features or easy storage. You can even buy serving trays in sets.

How do you clean a serving tray?

You can throw many serving trays into the dishwasher. However, if the serving tray is made out of a porous material like wood or ceramic, hand washing is better for preserving it. Prior to washing your tray, make sure to wipe away large debris. Then, apply a bit of gentle dish soap to a hot, damp cloth to thoroughly clean the tray before rinsing with hot water and towel drying. It’s also important that you don’t soak wooden trays, as this may lead to the wood warping. Serving trays are a staple for throwing dinner parties, potlucks, and other events, so ensuring they last you for years to come by properly cleaning your trays is essential.

Our Picks for the Best Serving Trays

Top Choice

Thirteen Cheft Wine Barrel Inspired Serving Tray

An affordable, lightweight wooden tray that is resistant to heat, odors, stains, and sliding.

Pros: This classic circular tray brings rustic potluck vibes to your at-home dining. Just imagine using it to serve a nice meal or cocktails to your guests. Its high-quality cypress wood and steel are durable and resistant to moisture, stains, and odors. Its convenient handles also make it a breeze to carry. The tray is 20 inches in diameter and holds large platters and hot plates with ease. The nonslip rubber feet also give the tray extra stability when placed on tables or counters,  so you won’t have to worry about sliding or spills.

Cons: The box recommends that you don’t put food directly on the tray’s surface, so you might want to use plates or line the tray with something like doilies or parchment paper.

Bottom Line: This rustic yet refined serving tray’s wine barrel-inspired design adds to its vintage feel. It looks great and is convenient to use with its handles and raised edge.


Unique Design

Tramanto Olive Wood Cheese Board

This wooden board is sure to add a rustic touch to a dinner party or picnic.

Pros: This beautiful olive wood tray makes the perfect charcuterie board! It’s approximately 12 by 6 inches, but it can vary in thickness due to the natural cut of the wood. Each tray is unique since they’re made from natural wood. No fumigation or pesticides are used while constructing the board, and it’s free from volatile compounds, so you can safely eat directly off it.

Cons: This board is smaller than other boards on this list, so it isn’t ideal for carrying large platters.

Bottom Line: This one-of-a-kind wooden board is great for charcuterie and can even be used as a cutting board. It’s lightweight and versatile, so it also makes a beautiful housewarming gift for loved ones.


Best with Raised Edges

Besti Rustic Vintage Food Serving Trays

A set of stackable reclaimed wooden trays with iron handles.

Pros: Made of beautiful reclaimed wood, this set of trays is sanded to give them a smooth finish while still retaining their rustic farmhouse feel. The reclaimed wood is sturdy yet lightweight, and the iron handles are durable and easy to hold. The trays are stackable for convenient storage. The large tray is ideal for full-sized dinner plates, while the small one is perfect for tea or coffee.

Cons: The wood and paint may become damaged over time from stains and spills, so you may need to line the tray with a small dining cloth for longevity.

Bottom Line: This set of two stylish wooden trays is perfect for serving coffee, cocktails, and meals. They’re stackable, so they’re convenient to store, and they have iron handles for easy carrying.


Best Bang for Your Buck

Hammont Wooden Nested Serving Trays

A sturdy, sleek, and beautiful set of five wooden serving trays that will work for multiple uses.

Pros: If you throw a lot of parties or if your family prefers to eat in the living room instead of the dining room or kitchen, you may need to invest in more than one serving tray. This set is a great option if you need several trays instead of a single one. Each tray comes in a different size, so you can use them for various items in multiple rooms of your home. The two oval cut-out handles are plenty wide, making it easier and more stable to grip and carry. The deep tray lips keep food and drinks from sliding off, tipping over, or spilling onto the floor. You can even customize these trays and paint them any color you want.

Cons: This tray is made of natural, raw wood, so you may have to sand the splinters down. These trays also have sharp edges, so you may need to sand those down as well to prevent them from scratching your shelves.

Bottom Line: These natural and minimalist wooden trays are durable enough to withstand the weight of heavy glasses, plates, and bowls. They come in a set of five and beautifully display food and home decor.


Best Disposable Choice

US Acrylic Avant Plastic Serving Trays

A set of sleek, simple, glossy serving trays that are durable and lightweight.

Pros: These three rectangular serving trays have a simple, minimal design. Made of BPA-free premium plastic, they’re lightweight yet durable. The plastic won’t shatter like glass or ceramic trays, and the 15- by 10-inch size makes them perfect for displaying meals. The glossy plastic body is top-rack dishwasher safe for your convenience. The white color won’t clash with your home decor, and the trays are stackable for easy storage.

Cons: These trays don’t have handles, so they’re not as easy to carry. They can slide around on tables.

Bottom Line: This simple and affordable set of plastic serving trays is great for potlucks, outdoor lunches, and parties. The BPA-free plastic is lightweight and easy to clean, and they’re durable enough to hold large meals, appetizers, and desserts.

Final Thoughts

From potlucks to picnics to fancy dinner parties, serving trays are a necessity for most events. They’re sustainable, durable, and make serving your guests or family a breeze.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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